Category Archives: Uncategorized

Evangelical versus “Evangelical”

A Christianity Today summary of research by LifeWay, Pew, and PRRI analyses the differences between self-identification as Evangelical and attachment to certain propositions. It also shows the connection between Evangelical identity and Republican politics.


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The narrative of persecution in Christian news

The Christian Post shared an article saying that Christians were kicked out of an Australian bar for discussing their opposition to gay marriage. The bar, however, say that they asked the Christians to move their meeting – which included people using a public address system – from the beer garden to the bar’s private function space. Notably, the CP fails to mention this.
A couple of weeks ago, the same news service shared a story about a Christian student’s being kicked out of his university for supporting Kim Davis . That article fails to mention that publicly sharing a passage calling homosexuality an “abomination” worthy of the death penalty violates the Standards of Conduct, Performance, and Ethics for UK social workers , and that it was the violation of professional standards, not his religious belief, for which he was expelled not from the university but from a professional training course.
If you want to know why so many Christians believe that they are being persecuted, you could start by looking at how much their news services are omitting.

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The Six Commandments

A YouGov survey shows support only for six out of the ten commandments: worshipping idols, taking the Lord’s name in vain, having other gods, and keeping the Sabbath holy are – for more than half of Britons – considered obsolete. Notably, this remains true even when narrowing the responses to those of Christians only.

While conservatives might claim that this shows “a descent into sin”, what it does clearly demonstrate is the movement away from literalist dogmatism.

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Science and gender

Seeing people who rail against others being transgender, describing that as “unnatural”, I wonder about more than just the fact that combing your hair is unnatural, wearing glasses is unnatural, and having any kind of corrective surgery is unnatural.

I also wonder what those ranters would say about people who have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome but are insensitive to androgens, or are missing the SRY gene on the Y chromosome, or have congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and thus have *female* bodies. That’s right: male chromosomes, female bodies.

What about people who have two X chromosomes but one of those Xs also has an SRY gene, or who have congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and thus have *male* bodies? That’s right: female chromosomes, male bodies.

What about people who have conditions such as 5α-reductase deficiency, who thus have bodies which are female until puberty but then become male bodies?

What about people who are XXY, XXXY, XXXXY, XYY, or X0? What about people whose cells differ from one another, forming a mosaic of XX and XY together in one body, including those who “with more than 90 per cent XY genetic material have given birth”?

What about people who have similar conditions which are never externally, publicly apparent, who are apparently one sex but are really not that and are instead the other, or are neither?

What about the fact that human science is not an absolute knowledge of all that is or can be, and thus we cannot logically rule out the existence of conditions and situations which we cannot even identify yet?

Even if someone went so far down the reductive biological determinism route as to imagine that humans were mere organic machines, with neither free will nor reflexive and conscious thought, one would still have to face the simple fact that the machinery of biology is much, much more complex than a simplistic dichotomy of XX versus XY.

Along similar lines, those who claim that being transgender is a new, Western idea have somehow managed not only to be ignorant of fa’afafinetwo-spirit, katoey, hijra, waria, etc., but also of such ancient figures as Kaineus, Teiresias, Iphis, Hermaphroditos, and the people Philo rails against in Alexandria.

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One million priorities

What does a church do with a million dollars? Set up a shelter for the homeless? Feed the poor? Deliver blankets to the needy? Organise a reading programme for underprivileged children? Most churches don’t know because they don’t have that kind of money.
The Sydney diocese of the Anglican Church did, and their Standing Committee decided that the most important recipient was the campaign to deny human rights to a minority group.

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The establishment of religion

30 out of 199 countries have Islam as an established or preferred religion; 41 have Christianity in the same role.
There is, however, a very significant population difference in that the 30 Muslim countries have 984.3 million people, whereas the 41 Christian ones have 655.9 million.

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The Bible and refugees

On using Dt 7:3 as justification for banning refugees because they might contaminate your society.

That verse in its context: “When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess […] you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them.” – Deuteronomy 7:1-3. That passage is *not* talking about refugees, but about Israel’s invasion of the Promised Land.

Subsequently, the Torah refers to Israel’s life in the Promised Land, saying, “‘And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:33-34. They are not treated as Israelites if they are denied the right to marry Israelites.

This injunction is repeated: “the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” – Deuteronomy 10.

The Torah does indeed require a coherent law for the whole society, which includes *equal rights* for all members of that society.”

In fact, we have the Torah in its repeated, explicit commandment to care for refugees:
• Lev 19:18 thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself
• Lev 25:35 And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.
• Deu 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:
• Deu 10:18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.

Next, the Nevi’im, continuing that theme:
• Isa 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
• Jer 7:6 If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt:
Jer 7:7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.
• Hos 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
• Mic 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
• Zec 7:10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.

Then, the Ketuvim, maintaining the same discourse:
• Psa 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Psa 82:4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
• Pro 14:31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
• Pro 17:5 Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.

And finally the Christian Scriptures, following that same idea:
• Mat 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
• Mat 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
• Mat 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Mat 25:42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
Mat 25:43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
• Luk 10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? […] 33 But a certain Samaritan
• 1Jn 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Just to make it perfectly clear, there is no exemption for a stranger who is hostile:
• Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”.

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